The year's first reported case of the West Nile virus has been confirmed in El Paso.
The patient is a 16-year-old male who lives in the 79928 zip code. It has been more than eight months since El Paso has seen a confirmed case of the virus in our area.
"We have had a long dry spell in regards to West Nile in the El Paso Area, but we should keep in mind that we started seeing cases in August of last year, and continued to see them well into December," said Fernando Gonzalez, Lead Epidemiologist. "We need to make sure that we continue to take precautions against mosquito bites and mosquito breeding so that we don't see the elevated number of cases we saw last year" he added.
Thirty two confirmed cases were reported in El Paso last year. Six of those patients died as a result of either the disease itself or due to underlying conditions.
Prevention-The best way to avoid exposure to West Nile Virus is to practice the four Ds:
• use Insect repellents that contain DEET
• Drain any standing water
• Dress in long, loose and light-colored clothing and
• take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from Dusk to Dawn.
To report standing water or mosquito breeding, call Environmental Services at (915) 3-1-1.
• About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness which can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
• Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
• No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
For more information on West Nile virus, please visit the Health Department website at www.EPHealth.com and click on the West Nile Virus link.